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Keep pets safe this summer

June 24, 2016

The hot summer months can be uncomfortable and dangerous for pets. Here are some tips for keeping pets safe in the heat:

  • Never leave pets in a parked car, even with the car running and air-conditioner on. Temperatures inside a vehicle can rise rapidly to dangerous levels. On an 85-degree day, the temperature inside a vehicle with the windows slightly cracked open can reach 102 degrees within 10 minutes. After 30 minutes, the temperature could reach 120 degrees. Such heat may cause death or irreversible organ damage in pets.
  • Watch the humidity. Dogs pant to cool down, but high humidity prevents them from doing so, causing their body temperature to soar to dangerous levels quickly.
  • Limit exercise on hot days. Walk dogs in the early morning or late at night. Pay special attention to pets with white-colored ears (as they are more susceptible to skin cancer) and short-nosed pets, which typically have difficulty breathing. Dogs absorb and release heat through their feet, therefore, walk them on grass or use doggy boots. Bring water to keep pets from dehydrating.
  • Don't rely on fans, which don't cool off animals as effectively as they do people. If you don't have air-conditioning, lay down a wet towel for your dog to lie on or simply set up a fan in front of a pan of ice.
  • Provide clean water and protection from heat and the sun when dogs are outdoors. Add ice to water. A doghouse does not provide relief from heat. Tree shade and tarps are ideal because they don't obstruct air flow.
  • Watch for signs of heatstroke, including heavy panting, glazed eyes, a rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing, excessive thirst, lethargy, fever, dizziness, lack of coordination, profuse salivation, vomiting, a deep red or purple tongue, seizure and unconsciousness. If a dog is suffering from heatstroke, move it into the shade or an air-conditioned area. Apply ice packs or cold towels to its head, neck and chest or run cool (not cold) water over the pet. Give it small amounts of cool water or ice cubes to lick. Take the dog to the veterinarian.

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